Monday, October 6, 2008

Lawsuit Legitimacy 101

Today's "I'm A Moron And I'm Going To Waste Everyone's Time By Filing A Ridiculous And Erroneous Lawsuit Just To See If I Can Get A Few Bucks Out Of Someone Because I Am A Sneaky Weasel" segment comes to us from West Valley City, Utah. For those of you unfamiliar with the little sections of Utah, allow me. West Valley isn't quite ghetto, but it's aspiring to be. That should paint a pretty picture for you.

According to the folks at the mediocre Salt Lake Tribune, a one Richard Cleaveland, an employee of Frito-Lay for approximately 10 years, filed a lawsuit against the tasty chip maker because he claims that he "faced discrimination after he complained about hauling Christmas trees, saying it made him uncomfortable because of his Jewish faith." Naturally, he is seeking a minimum of $100,000 in damages.

I'll get to other details in a second. But for right now, here's a question: Frito-Lay is in the Christmas Tree business? Since when? I don't recall seeing any crispy snack goodness tree lots during the holiday seasons come past. Is this new?

OK, back to the insanity. Are you freaking kidding me, dude? Apparently, he is not. Cleaveland, in addition to shoving that "a" into his name where it just doesn't look right, claims that he "...voiced his discomfort in December 2004 and was denied his religious accommodation request." Now, I'd be interested to know exactly HOW it is or was that hauling the trees, ie, driving a truck full of trees, being a truck tree driver, how THAT made him uncomfortable because he is Jewish? Good thing I asked because his lawyer, a one weaselly P. Corper James (Corper?) answered that question by saying "How hauling pine trees might be an affront to faith is less important than the retaliation that followed." Translation: He didn't give a fat rat's ass about hauling the trees, but the both of us might be able to make a quick buck off of this one.

According to the article, "The complaint alleges that since making his request, Cleaveland has been subjected to insults and jokes and "forced to observe other Christmas traditions." It says he's been slapped with worse shifts, faced disciplinary notice he'd never received before, denied jobs he'd gotten in the past and has faced difficulty in securing wages. All of this has amounted to "a hostile work environment," one that's reportedly harmed Cleaveland both emotionally and financially."

Well, of course he was subjected to "insults and jokes". That's what your co-workers DO when you make some pansy ass complaint with religion as it's weak, weak basis and expect to be taken seriously. Especially if you're not a particularly religious chap.
The weaselly attorney who is clearly perpetuating the filing of ridiculous lawsuits, tried to use Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to explain to people (who have already figured out that the lawsuit is a racket, and not in a good way) why this is supposed to be important. He said that "An employee can make a religious accommodation request, and that employee is protected from any retaliatory conduct as a result of the request." Fair enough. But I'm still a little unclear on the part about how the $100,000 minimum is going to help "protect" him. Oh, that's right. It's not.

Now, even if I were to briefly consider his point of view (and I use the term "briefly" loosely, as it's really going to amount to a few seconds at best), I'd have to say that his argument is weak at best. Unless the "retaliatory conduct" is coming directly from the person to whom he made the request, then he's got nothing. But co-workers who find out that this guy's feelings got all hurt because he can't get out of tree hauling duty for the chip makers (I'm still perplexed as to the connection between Frito-Law and the Christmas tree commodity is) and then they start giving him a hard time, (perhaps by swiping his yarmulke every Friday) that's called normal or, at the very least, expected.

And when this shyster-y lawyer says that "HOW the pine tree hauling affected him isn't as important as the retaliation that followed", he's completely wrong on that one. The HOW is absolutely the most important part. If it's clear (which it seems to be to me) that moving around a bunch of trees had NO affect on this guy, then I see nothing out of the ordinary if his co-workers give him a hard time about it. In fact, I'd worry about the co-workers if they didn't give someone a hard time about trying to pull a stunt like this. Please.

I'd also like to know what he means by being "forced to observe other Christmas traditions". Like what? Like how? Oh, let me guess! They gave you the day off on Christmas?! WITH pay?! Those bastards!

Things like this greatly annoy me. It's a frivolous lawsuit at best and I, for one, will be shocked, just shocked if he wins. I can't imagine that he would. If people want to file lawsuits that are based on a technicality in a theory, they really need to look into finding a new hobby or something because they have way too much free time on their hands. And if they really want people to at least TRY to take them seriously (or at least, more seriously) they should really try not asking for any money in their suit. THAT'S when we'll know if they really feel like they're being screwed over. (You might notice that doesn't happen a whole heck of a lot. And what does that tell you?)

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1 comment:

irritated said...

On a similar note, I plan to open a federal investigation into embezzlement against my parents. Since I no longer believe in Santa, it's important we learn where those gifts from "Santa" come from.